Cup

1854
Newell Harding & Co. (American, active 1851–1889), Newell Harding (1796–1862), Francis Low Harding (about 1851–1889), Alexander H. Lewis (American, 1815–1859), Lewis Kimball (American, active about 1851–1885)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Dimensions

Overall: 9.7 x 8.6 cm, 0.18 kg (3 13/16 x 3 3/8 in., 0.4 lb.)

Accession Number

54.513

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The body is raised with straight sides curving inward to a molded ring foot. Heavy molding strengthens the upper rim. Chased and engraved foliate ornament surrounds the inscription.


Lively flat-chased scrolls and flowers surround the somewhat formal inscription on this cup. It seems unlikely to have been a personal gift but rather one presented to Mrs. Ward by employees or other associates of her husband, Nahum. Nahum Ward moved from his birthplace of Athol, Massachusetts, to Boston in 1825. He worked for two years in a soap and candle establishment and then entered the oil and tallow business, in neighboring Roxbury. After amassing a considerable fortune, Ward helped found the Rockland Bank of Roxbury and served on its board for twenty-seven years.2 Ruth Ward would have celebrated her fortieth birthday in 1854. Five years later, she received a large pitcher also marked by Newell Harding & Co. and inscribed in the same manner to “Mrs. Ward” (cat. no. 207).
The deftly drawn scrolls and flowers in the exuberant, light-hearted engraving add interest and fashion to a plain, sturdy form. The work of the engraver can be seen on other silverware marked by Harding (cat. nos. 206 – 7) and on that marked by other Boston retailers. Working in the mid-nineteenth century, this as-yet-unidentified craftsman seems to be looking back to the previous century, to the Rococo-style engraving on surviving works by Boston’s colonial silversmiths such as Jacob Hurd or Paul Revere. However, the scrolls decorating this 1854 cup surround a reserve bearing an inscription to the wife of a self-made American businessman rather than the English-style family coat of arms characteristic of eighteenth-century silver.

This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.

Inscription

Engraved "Mrs N. Ward / Roxbury. / 1854" in script and centered on the front within a reserve framed by chased foliate scrolls.

Markings

Incised "N. HARDING & CO." in uppercase Roman letters on the bottom.
Ada Mark * F4440

Provenance

Mrs. N. Ward was born Ruth Stetson Gurney (1814 – 1863) in Saco, Maine; m. Nahum Ward (1801 – 1858) in 1845 after his first wife, her sister, had died two years earlier. The cup descended from Ruth Ward to her daughter Susan Nahum Ward (b. 1845) and Lyman Jabez Clark (1835 – 1918), m. 1866; to their children Mabel Gurney Clark (b. 1870) and Francis Lyman Clark (b. 1877), the donors.

Credit Line

Gift of Mabel Gurney Clark and F. Lyman Clark in memory of their mother, Susan Ward Clark